Sunday, March 8, 2015

G^d's "Planning"

Mike P did a marvelous job teaching Acts chapter 8 today.  In this chapter the Jerusalem Christians are dispersed to "Judea and Samaria", and Philip shares with the Ethiopian, perhaps the first non-Jewish Christian, who presumably takes the Gospel to Africa.

The thing that struck me most clearly was how G^d orchestrated the spread of Christianity to the Samaritans and then to the whole world.

A brief review of Jewish history may be of help. Originally Israel was a single unified country which then split into northern and southern kingdoms. Babylon invaded the north and took those Jews away into captivity. The Babylonian strategy was to NOT leave an emptied land empty but to populate it with immigrants to help them maintain control.  The imported people became the Samaritans who wound up practicing a syncretic form of Judaism, that is a mix of Judaism with their own paganism (think of the woman at the well in John 4).

There was no shortage of hostility between Jews and Samaritans, so the spread of Christianity into Samaria was a BIG change.  And likewise, the interesting encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch resulted in the witness of the Christ to the "ends of the earth".  I had not known before today, but at one time Ethiopia had invaded and controlled all of NE Africa and extended into modern Israel.

Think about this in view of Acts 1:8, " ...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

The spread of the Gospel into Samaria was likely a big shock to the Jewish Christians, which became more shocking with the spread to Ethiopia.

So think about the BIG picture.  G^d orchestrates the spread of the Gospel throughout the world thousands of years before it was going to be commanded and happen.  Go figure.

Don't forget, G^d is NOT bound by time as we are.

You can't make this stuff up!!!

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